Re: Standards for pop-up definitions in online help

Subject: Re: Standards for pop-up definitions in online help
From: Steve Fouts <stefou -at- ESKIMO -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 20:03:38 GMT

Megan Shult <Megan_Shult -at- hysoft -dot- com> wrote in article
<96Sep18 -dot- 143306edt -dot- 77185-2 -at- gateway -dot- hysoft -dot- com>...
| What, if any, are the standards for using pop-up definitions in an online
| help system? Specifically, if a term is repeated in multiple topics, do
| you use the pop-up in each topic where it occurs? Only in the first topic
| within a particular browse sequence? I know I should only use it on the
| first instance within a topic, but beyond that I'm unsure of the
| approach since there is no real linear flow through a help system -- you
| don't know the user's exact entry point, so it's hard to determine the
| instance of anything.

No there aren't any standards, and if there were, I wouldn't follow them.
If it is a term that you think your target audience may not understand,
define it at its first appearence on every topic, except avoid popups
from popups if you can.

In my experience, only a tiny fraction of people who use help (itself a
tiny fraction of the general computer user populace) use browse sequences
unless they were explicitly shown how. So, in general, always write the
topic assuming random access.

That's my opinion. I could be wrong.

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